Rick Neuheisel is returning to college coaching at the school where he first found fame and success.

Neuheisel, a quarterback who was the MVP in UCLA's 1984 Rose Bowl victory and later served as a Bruins assistant, was hired Saturday as his alma mater's 16th coach.

His five-year contract is for $1.25 million annually, plus incentives.

The 46-year-old Neuheisel succeeds Karl Dorrell, who was fired Dec. 3 after five seasons on the job. Neuheisel spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

He had a 66-30 record as a head coach at Colorado from 1995-98 and Washington from 1999-2002. He hasn't been in the college game since Washington fired him in 2003 for participating in a betting pool on the NCAA basketball tournament. He sued for wrongful termination from Washington and settled in March 2005 with UW and the NCAA for $4.5 million.

Colorado was placed on two years' probation by the NCAA for infractions committed while he was the Buffaloes' coach. All were deemed secondary violations and most involved improper contact with recruits.

ZOOK WINS COACH OF YEAR AWARD: Illinois coach Ron Zook won the Liberty Mutual coach of the year award Saturday for leading one of the best turnarounds in college football this season.

The Illini went 9-3 and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl a year after going 2-10. Zook, in his third season with Illinois, took over a program that hadn't had a winning season since 2001.